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Democrats Rally Around John Kerry -- Except For Zell Miller

Aired March 25, 2004 - 15:30   ET


ANNOUNCER: A show of togetherness. It's the Democrats' day to rally round John Kerry.

HOWARD DEAN (D), FRM. PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: I trust John Kerry and that's who I'm voting for and that's who I'm working for.

AD ANNOUNCER: John Kerry's economic record? Troubling.

ANNOUNCER: The Bush camp launches a new ad attack. We'll show you the spot and check the facts.

Reviewing the 9/11 hearings. Did a star witness's allegations bring out the panel's partisanship.

RICHARD CLARKE, FRM. COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: I knew before I wrote this book that the White House would let loose the dogs to attack me.



JUDY WOODRUFF, CNN ANCHOR: Thank you for joining us. That first day back at work after vacation can be tough, even for a presidential candidate. But John Kerry's political pals are making it easier on him. With one show of Democratic unity after another.

CNN's Kelly Wallace has more on the events here in Washington from Howard Dean's endorsement to a star-studded party dinner tonight -- Kelly.

KELLY WALLACE, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT: Judy, as you definitely know, John Kerry and Howard Dean you can say definitely didn't see eye-to-eye during the presidential primary campaign. In fact, Howard Dean was one of John Kerry's biggest critics. But right now, the two men are putting aside their differences.


SEN. JOHN KERRY (D-MA), PRESIDENTIAL CANDIDATE: Despite our efforts, each of us, to win this, we are here not to win for us individually, but to win for our country, and for you.


WALLACE: One Kerry aide called this public endorsement by Howard Dean incredibly important, saying it would validate John Kerry in the base or in the eyes of Howard Dean's base with his more than 500,000 Internet supporters.

Something else that Howard Dean can do to galvanize that base. We saw him do that today as he stepped right into that controversy brewing between Richard Clarke and the Bush White House over whether the Bush administration could have done more before September 11.


DEAN: The real issue is this. You know I got such a kick out of seeing the president huff and puff and get all indignant over the testimony of Richard Clarke this week.

And the real issue is this: who would you rather have in charge of the defense of the United States of America? A group of people who never served a day overseas in their life or a guy who served his country honorably, has three Purple Hearts and a Silver Star on the battlefields of Vietnam?


WALLACE: We asked John Kerry if he was watching Clarke's testimony yesterday. He said he did not watch it, because he was flying back from Idaho.

But John Kerry got another boost this afternoon. He received the endorsement from the American Federation of Federal, County and Municipal Employees representing more than 1 million peoples. Judy, of course this group also had been backing Howard Dean. But then pulled away his support after he was losing several primaries.

WOODRUFF: That's right. In addition, there's this big dinner tonight. The Democratic Party pulling together what they say is a united front.

WALLACE: They do. And they are saying this could be a record- breaking event. We have some officials saying they hope to raise between $10 and $11 million. It will be a who's who of the Democratic Party. Former Presidents Clinton and Carter, former Vice President Al Gore, other presidential candidates.

And unity is the message. They're trying to say despite differences between some of these Democrats, they're coming together united and hoping to defeat President Bush in November.

They have a lot to do, Judy. Right now John Kerry more than $100 million behind what the Bush/Cheney reelection team has when it comes to money.

WOODRUFF: It was one of the things I talked to the party chairman Terry McAuliffe when I talked to him. We're going to run that interview a little bit later. All right, Kelly Wallace. Thanks very much.

The man the Democrats vow to beat in November is reminding them again today what they are up against. Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES" looks at the Bush camp's newest ad attack.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: I'm George W. Bush, and I approve this message.

HOWARD KURTZ, HOST, "RELIABLE SOURCES" (voice-over): It's the oldest script in the Republican playbook. And in his third negative ad in as many weeks President Bush is accusing John Kerry of embracing higher taxes.

AD ANNOUNCER: John Kerry's economic record? Troubling. Kerry voted to increase taxes on Social Security benefits. And he voted against giving small businesses tax credits to buy health care for employees. Kerry even supported raising taxes on gasoline 50 cents a gallon.

KURTZ: It's all true. But mostly old news. Kerry did vote for a Social Security tax hike. It was part of President Clinton's 1993 deficit reduction package that helped produce an economic boom.

Kerry expressed support for 50 cent gas tax back in 1994. And aides say he wanted to cut the kind of vast budget deficit that Bush's policies have now produced.

Kerry did vote with all but one Democrat against business tax credits in 2001. But voted to cut taxes for small business last year. The new ad also repeats a disputed White House charge.

AD ANNOUNCER: Now John Kerry's plan will raise taxes by at least $900 billion his first 100 days in office.

KURTZ: Kerry has no such plan. Though he hasn't fully explained how he will pay for his domestic proposals on issues like health care.

At first, Kerry reacted to the Bush barrage by counterattacking.

AD ANNOUNCER: Doesn't America deserve more from its president than misleading negative ads?

KURTZ: Kerry spokeswoman Stephanie Cutter pushed back hard today, saying Bush has a credibility problem on the economy because he's produced, quote, "record deficits, record job losses and record fiscal ruin."

On the airwaves tough the Kerry team has decided to offer a positive portrait of the senator.

AD ANNOUNCER: John Kerry, the military experience to defend America, a new plan to create jobs and put our economy back on track. KURTZ (on camera): Kerry strategists say they don't want to get drawn into an endless cycle of responding to Bush's attack ads which means playing on his turf. They don't have as much money and they feel they're still introducing John Kerry to American voters. For now at least they're staying positive in the ad wars.

This is Howard Kurtz of CNN's "RELIABLE SOURCES."


WOODRUFF: Also today, President Bush took his economic message to New Hampshire, promoting his jobs program, and one of the battleground states of the 2004 race. We'll have a live report on his trip later on INSIDE POLITICS.

Tomorrow, Bush heads to yet another showdown state, New Mexico. Our senior political analyst Bill Schneider gives us the lay of the land there.


WILLIAM SCHNEIDER, CNN SENIOR POLITICAL ANALYST (voice-over): Quick, which state had the closest vote in 2000? Wrong, the correct answer is New Mexico. Strange but true.

CHRIS GARCIA, UNIV. OF NEW MEXICO: We're closer than Florida, but, of course, Florida got all the attention.

SCHNEIDER: Al Gore carried New Mexico by 366 votes. By comparison, George W. Bush's 537 vote margin in Florida was a landslide.

New Mexico is not just a swing state, it's a bellwether state. Since joining the union in 1912, New Mexico has voted for the winner in 21 out of 23 presidential elections.

GARCIA: It is an amazing thing that we are such a bellwether state and have been since statehood. When one looks at the demographics, we certainly are not typical.

SCHNEIDER: Strange but true.

BRIAN SANDEROFF, NEW MEXICO POLLSTER: New Mexico is a battleground state because of the fact that we're 40 percent Hispanic and we're 8 percent Native American.

SCHNEIDER: Even the Hispanic vote is strange but true. A lot of it is not Mexican-American.

SANDEROFF: Hispanics in New Mexico can trace their lineage for over 400 years to Spain, particularly in northern New Mexico. And so sometimes people call Hispanics in northern New Mexico minority groups and they look at you funny.

SCHNEIDER: Towse (ph) and Santa Fe look like Northern California, artist, environmentalists and counterculture voters, the base of New Mexico's thriving Green Party. Ralph Nader took 4 percent of the New Mexico vote in 2000. That's why it was so close. And why Nader threatens the Democrats again this year.

For a small state, New Mexico is getting a lot of attention in 2004.

GARCIA: Both on English media, and on Spanish language media, so yes we're being I'd say almost saturated with ads this early in the campaign.

SCHNEIDER: So how does the 2004 race look in New Mexico? Close. George W. Bush and John Kerry get about equal favorability ratings. Kerry has an important ally. The highly popular Democratic governor, Bill Richardson. Hispanic, former U.N. ambassador, a potential Kerry running mate.

SANDEROFF: If Kerry put Bill Richardson on the ticket, that would sew New Mexico up, yes.


SCHNEIDER: Speaking of strange but true, there's Roswell, New Mexico. Site of the international UFO museum. No polls yet on the space alien vote. But in a close race -- do do do do, do do do do.

WOODRUFF: What are you suggesting?

SCHNEIDER: We're going to find out. We'll have more to report on that.


WOODRUFF: The UFO vote. All right, Schneider's on it.


WOODRUFF: Bill, thank you very much.

Two new polls lead our headlines in the "Campaign News Daily." A nationwide survey and a poll in a key showdown state. Both come up with similar results.

A nationwide Quinnipiac University Poll of registered voters gives President Bush 46 percent to John Kerry's 40 percent. Ralph Nader picks up 6 percent.

In West Virginia, the American Research Group finds likely voters are evenly split between Bush and Kerry. Both receiving 46 percent. Ralph Nader has 2 percent.

Dennis Kucinich will not be attending tonight's big Democratic unity dinner. But he acknowledges the Democratic race is all but over. Kucinich released a statement vowing to continue his campaign, and he promised to keep working to shape the direction of the party.

The AFL-CIO has organized what it is calling a "Show Us the Jobs" bus tour through eight battle ground states. Fifty-one unemployed from every state and the District of Columbia left St. Louis yesterday. After stops in Michigan, Ohio and other states, they are scheduled to arrive here in Washington next week.

With a partisan spark still flying after the 9/11 commission hearings. Up next, did members of the independent panel wind up showing their true political colors?

Also ahead, politics at the pump. Are rising gas prices giving Democrats fuel against the president?

And the senator behind Democrats for Bush. What caused Zell Miller to change his view of John Kerry? Miller will join us on INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: The commission formed to investigate the September 11 attacks had at least until yesterday avoided the kind of partisan division so often seen here in Washington. The appearance of Richard Clarke however, changed the tone of the hearings and highlighted strong differences of opinion between Clarke and several Republican commissioners.


JOHN LEHMEN, COMMISSION MEMBER: The inconsistency between what your promoters are putting out and what you yourself said as late as August '05, you've got a real credibility problem.

JAMES THOMPSON, COMMISSION MEMBER: Well what it suggests to me is that there is -- there is one standard -- one standard of candor and morality for White House special assistants, and another standard of candor and morality for the rest of America. I don't get that.

RICHARD CLARKE, FRM. COUNTERTERRORISM ADVISER: I don't think it's a question of morality at all. I think it's a question of politics.


WOODRUFF: Just a piece of yesterday's hearing.

With me now to talk more about Richard Clarke's appearance at those 9/11 commission hearings, Dana Milbank of "The Washington Post." He joins me from "The Post" newsroom.

Dana, there was a lot -- this commission it seems to me, had made a point of talking about the bipartisanship, the bipartisan spirit of its members. What was it about Clarke's appearance that changed all that?

DANA MILBANK, "THE WASHINGTON POST": Well, it was basically because of Clarke's book and Clarke's appearance all over your network and others, it's really elevated the stakes here. He has delivered this devastating, if true, indictment of the president's handling of before 9/11, after 9/11, the Iraq War. This jeopardizes the presidential election and the whole standing of this White House.

The White House, in turn, has begun to really -- really in an unprecedented way fight back in a very personal way against Mr. Clarke to try to completely undermine and eviscerate his credibility. The Republican members of the commission felt a certain need to circle the wagons, and defend the White House here.

And some of the Democratic members of the commission, perhaps instinctively, were driven to build up or rebuild Clarke's credibility.

WOODRUFF: Well, what did you see? Dana, you were in the hearing room, is that right? What did you see that maybe those of us watching on television didn't see?

MILBANK: Well, the influence of the families of the 9/11 victims was really powerful. Several rows were set off for them. And it was almost like watching a tennis match.

I actually heard people yell "Score" at one point when they liked a point somebody made, interrupting for applause, groaning when a hostile questioner went over his time limit. It really became became almost like a sports atmosphere.

And Clarke is clearly quite a good showman, and he seemed to be enjoying being in the witness stand, so -- enjoyed taking on the Republican questioners like the former Illinois Governor Thompson.

WOODRUFF: Was there any sort of consensus about who came out on top? Was it Clarke or was it his Republican challengers?

MILBANK: To those of us in the inside the Beltway crowd, Clarke's -- the clip that you played about sort of the how it's very natural to spin and yes, perhaps, shade the truth a bit in these background White House briefings, that rings true to all of us.

But I have a feeling out there in America, people will find it a little strange that Clarke had one standard when serving as a White House official on speaking anonymously and another when actually speaking for himself.

But he definitely just in terms of rhetoric, he seemed prepared for the questions he was going to get and was able to really silence his questioners.

WOODRUFF: Dana, I heard the news conference of the chairs, the chairman of the commission after yesterday's testimony. And I heard Tom Kean, former governor of New Jersey, say that he still hopes that this commission is going to be able to come forward with a bipartisan, and he hoped unanimous report.

Given what we saw yesterday, what's your sense of that? MILBANK: Well, I'm sure he can hope that. And there are many things that everybody could agree on. And you could see that they -- I mean one thing everybody doesn't mind doing is blaming the CIA. That can be a bipartisan agreement.

But they're going to be very sensitive about questions that point the blame on one administration or the other. All the more so because right now we're going to have this report coming out right in the political heat of the convention season.

So, you can expect the disagreements to be watered down and expect a blander report, as a result.

WOODRUFF: Well, we'll going to be watching all this. Quickly, Dana, is this the end of the hearings, or are there more?

MILBANK: Well, it's supposedly the end of the public hearings. But, Dr. Rice is asking for a little private time to rebut Dr. Clarke's -- Mr. Clarke's remarks. And it seems that the commission and the Democrats, of course, are going to pressure her to go public if she wants to make such a rebuttal.

WOODRUFF: Dana Milbank from "The Washington Post." Thanks very much.

MILBANK: Thanks, Judy.

WOODRUFF: One person who is unhappy with the fact these hearings were held at all is Georgia Senator Zell Miller. He's a Democrat who's supporting President Bush for reelection. Miller tells me that this week's hearings, he thinks, could be a bad thing for the United States.


SEN. ZELL MILLER (D), GEORGIA: But I think it could do great damage to this country. I think that our enemies, our terrorist enemies, look at what's happening here and they see all this bickering, they see this divisiveness, they see this disunity and they will interpret it as weakness and instability.

And it will encourage them, especially after what happened in Spain and how they changed that election, to maybe launch an attack on us.


WOODRUFF: Pretty strong words coming from the senator. My complete conversation with Senator Zell Miller coming up later this hour right here on INSIDE POLITICS.

A potential campaign issue is as close as your corner gas station. In just a minute, we'll pull up to the pumps and look at how the rising cost of gasoline could affect this year's election.

(COMMERCIAL BREAK) WOODRUFF: The White House says that like most Americans, President Bush is concerned about rising gasoline prices. Drivers in some states are paying nearly $2 a gallon. Bruce Morton looks at what kind of mileage this gets as a campaign issue.


BRUCE MORTON, CNN NATIONAL CORRESPONDENT (voice-over): Yes, they're high again. Gas prices hit all-time highs two days this week, the American Automobile Association says. Averaging $1.74 a gallon. And the government says prices may reach $1.83 a gallon in April and May, even before the summer driving season hits its peak.

White House Press Secretary Scott McClellan says, like most Americans, the president is concerned about rising gas prices. But he adds there are no plans to take fuel from the Strategic Petroleum Reserve and put it on the market. Are high prices a political problem for the president?

THOMAS MANN, BROOKINGS INST.: Gas prices are not yet a political factor. They're nominally high, but in real terms, well below the levels of 1980 and '81. But, we could see a real spike in oil prices come late summer, early fall, and then they have the potential for being a serious political problem for President Bush.

MORTON: If you're old enough, you remember the Arab oil embargo and the lines at gas stations. Serious bad news for then-President Jimmy Carter.

And you don't have to be even middle-aged to remember the rolling blackouts and power shortages in California a year or two ago. Trouble? Just ask former Governor Gray Davis, who voters removed from office or Governor Arnold Schwarzenegger, the man they put in his place.

The economy is a problem for President Bush. Good news about overall economic growth today. But problems like jobs remain.

MANN: Americans aren't real excited about GDP. They care about jobs and wages, and prices of things they have to buy. If gas prices go up dramatically why not blame the president? In addition, a real spike in gas and energy prices could diminish consumer spend, and bring this economic recovery to a screeching halt.

MORTON (on camera): So, high gas prices are not a political problem for the president for now. You may want to check your local filling station late this summer though. If there is a problem, you'll see it then.

Bruce Morton, CNN, Washington.


WOODRUFF: Perhaps.

Meantime, the Democratic Party is trying to get some mileage out of appearing united. But while John Kerry picked up one high-profile endorsement today, not all Democrats are on his side.

Also ahead, a look inside the Democratic Party's sparkling new nerve center.



ANNOUNCER: President Bush, back on the trail, pays a visit to a state that could decide the November election.

MILLER: There are just too many issues about which John Kerry and I disagree.

ANNOUNCER: Why is Zell Miller breaking party ranks?

MILLER: I cannot support him in his race for the presidency.

ANNOUNCER: The maverick senator from Georgia is our guest.

One-liners from the president.

GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Those weapons of mass destruction got to be somewhere. Nope, no weapons over there.

ANNOUNCER: George Bush makes fun of himself. But were his comments too light for such a serious subject?

Now, live from Washington, JUDY WOODRUFF'S INSIDE POLITICS.


WOODRUFF: Welcome back.

Even as President Bush traveled to New Hampshire today to promote his economic policy, he clearly had the 9/11 Commission's investigation on his mind. Specifically former anti-terror adviser Richard Clarke's controversial accusation that Mr. Bush ignored early warnings about al Qaeda.

Let's go to our White House correspondent Dana Bash -- Dana.

DANA BASH, CNN WHITE HOUSE CORRESPONDENT: Judy, the hope and intention of the Bush campaign today now that the 9/11 Commission hearings over was to turn the corner and start talking about the economy. As you said, that was what the plan was and what the president did talk about today in New Hampshire. But he started the event by weighing in personally on what voters heard yesterday at the 9/11 Commission hearing from his own former counterterrorism aide Richard Clarke who suggested that he warned top Bush aides about impending attacks.


GEORGE W. BUSH, PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES: Had I known that the enemy was going to use airplanes to strike America, to attack us, I would have used every resource, every asset, every power of this government to protect the American people.


BASH: Now there is a new poll out today by the Pew Research Center that may give a good clue into why the president himself weighed in. Why his top aides are waging this massive counterpunch, if you will. When you asked about whether or not people have heard of Clarke's criticism, 42 percent say they've heard a lot about it. 47 percent a little. That's 89 percent of the American people, voters, who have heard at least a little bit about Clarke's criticism. Now, in terms of the issue, this is really the issue, Judy, for the Bush campaign. It is the one that they are running on, really flagging the most. It is the one that they had hoped would be the president's biggest asset in this election year.

Now, as for the president's opponent, you heard earlier today at a rally Howard Dean hit the president on this Clarke issue. But John Kerry has been conspicuously absent from this debate. His advisers say basically they think if the Bush White House -- they're hanging themselves by one of their own, one of their own is actually helping them, why get in the way? But in terms of Democrats on Capitol Hill, they are certainly getting out there and they are saying that the Bush White House is waging personal attacks against a former aide.


SEN. TOM DASCHLE (D-SD), MINORITY LEADER: Ask them to stop their attempts to conceal information and confuse facts. Ask them to stop the long effort that has made the 9/11 Commission's work more difficult than it should be.


BASH: Now one other reason why Kerry aides say they're maybe not getting involved that aggressively in this debate is, of course, the fact that Bush aides are charging that this whole Clarke charge is politically motivated. He's very close with John Kerry's top foreign policy adviser. So Kerry aides say why get involved in that? Just step back and let it happen -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: Dana, meanwhile, in the midst of all this, the president's up in New England today. He's raising even more money for his campaign. He's talking about one of the issues that his campaign is most worried about.

BASH: That's right. He is in the very important state of New Hampshire, just four electoral votes. But it is a state that he narrowly won in 2000 by just a little more than 7,000 votes. And clearly the Bush campaign want to make sure that that state is in their column again. This is the seventh time the president has been there since in office. The third time this year. All the events have been focused on the economy. And the latest polls do show that the president is up there, but they're not taking any chances. That state is one of the 17 they are running their paid advertising in today. We, of course, have new ones hitting John Kerry on tax cuts. So the president is spending some time there. Also, in John Kerry's home state tonight, as you mentioned, he's raising $1.2 million -- Judy.

WOODRUFF: OK. The cash register just keeps on ringing up those dollars. Dana, thank you very much.

About three hours from now, John Kerry breaks bread with a lot of fellow Democrats at the Democratic National Committee's unity dinner here in Washington. It will be a political name dropper's paradise with former presidents Jimmy Carter, and Bill Clinton. Along with Al Gore, among the top Democrats rallying around Kerry. He then is expected to pull in between $10 million and maybe close to $11 million. Most of Kerry's former rivals for the Democratic nomination will be there, too, including Howard Dean. He formally endorsed Kerry today as did the powerful AFSCME union that originally backed Dean.

Well, don't strain your eyes looking for Senator Zell Miller at any of today's shows of Democratic unity. One day after he formed the unlikely group, Democrats for Bush, he may be more of a thorn in the side of his party's leaders than ever. I spoke with Senator Miller just a short while ago and asked him if he still considers himself to be a Democrat.


MILLER: I will put up my Democratic credentials with anyone. I first voted for a Democratic president in 1952, and I voted for every Democratic president since then. I have worked long and strong in the Democratic party for more than 50 years.


MILLER: Anybody that's got better credentials than that as far as being a Democrat, stand up and I'll debate you.

WOODRUFF: But, this go-around, John Kerry is not somebody you can vote for you said.

MILLER: No, I cannot vote for John Kerry. And I think there's an awful lot of Democrats out there who cannot vote for John Kerry. I think the biggest myth of this political season is that the Democratic party is united. That's a bunch of baloney. It's not united. Who's united is the Howard Dean, Nancy Pelosi, Ted Kennedy, John Kerry wing of the Democratic party. And that wing of the Democratic party has never, never in modern times elected a president.

WOODRUFF: But there are others who certainly wouldn't call themselves liberal Democrats, I'm thinking of people from the south like John Breaux, like Mary Landrieu who are saying they're going to support John Kerry.

MILLER: They're office holders. Talk to the rank and file. I guarantee you right now, Judy, that in the state of Georgia, which I know pretty well, I would say anywhere from one-fourth to one-third of the rank and file of Democrats will vote for George Bush in this next election.

WOODRUFF: Let me ask you about something that you said about John Kerry. He came to make a speech in Georgia a couple of years ago. And you said among other things he's one of our nation's authentic heroes. He's one of this party's greatest leaders. But here you are two years later and you're saying he's not somebody you can support?

MILLER: He is an authentic hero. And let's not anybody ever forget that. We owe him an eternal debt of thanks for what he did in Vietnam. He sat at that dinner, but I sure am glad that Zell Miller came to Washington. I wonder if he's changed his mind about me. See, this was before 9/11 and you have to look at a person's votes. And his votes, that's how you judge a person. And when you look at a person's votes, you're not questioning their patriotism. You're not trying to smear them as a great patriot. He was and is. You're trying to point out that this man voted against the Homeland Security bill. He voted time and time against missile projects and other weapons that we need in our national defense. Most important of all, and what really got me was whenever he did not support the $87 billion to go to Iraq for its reconstruction and for our armed services.

WOODRUFF: Let's talk about fiscal issues. Right now the Bush campaign is out there saying John Kerry would raise $900 billion worth of taxes. John Kerry does have a health care plan out there. He says most of it would not involve a tax increase. They're talking about a $1 trillion tax gap. On the other hand, President Bush hasn't included the cost of the war in Iraq and Afghanistan in his budget this year. President Bush has not tallied up the cost of partial privatization of Social Security. Are these -- aren't there questions, I guess I'm asking, for both of these candidates about how they would fill out?

MILLER: Well, that's what we'll sort out during this campaign. That's why we have campaigns. I know this, though, that John Kerry has voted to increase taxes 350 times since he's been in the United States Senate. That to me looks pretty much like a tax increaser. And he has said that during his first 100 days he wanted to do that health care initiative. And it would cost $900 billion. And the only way I know where you can get that kind of money is to reach down into the pocketbooks of every man and woman in America.


WOODRUFF: Georgia Democratic Senator Zell Miller endorsing President Bush.

Richard Clarke's book has turned into a hot seller. But will his story change votes come November? Bay Buchanan and Donna Brazile are standing by to take issue on that.

Later the Republican party's effort to get out the youth vote pulls in to Times Square.

Plus a tour of the Democratic party's new digs.


WOODRUFF: They don't often see eye to eye anyway. Here in Washington to take issue, Donna Brazile of the Democratic National Committee's Voting Rights Institute, and in San Francisco, Bay Buchanan of the American Cause. Donna, I'm going to start with you. John Kerry back from vacation today. Hitting the campaign trail. Advice for him? Let's talk about what his to-do list should be. I'm going to ask both you and Bay.

DONNA BRAZILE, DNC VOTING RIGHTS INST.: First of all, getting Howard Dean on his express train is really good because Dean has a lot of fuel and a lot of voters who are interested in supporting John Kerry and giving him some much-needed cash. AFSCME came on board tonight. Al Gore, Jimmy Carter, Bill Clinton, oldies but goodies. Good for the Democratic Party, good for John Kerry. John Kerry is about to embark on a very long trip across America to talk about his economic plan to restore jobs in this country, to lay out a plan to make our taxes more fair. And to really boost the American people's spirit. He has a plan to get the economic engine moving again.

WOODRUFF: Bay, what's your sense of John Kerry's to-do list?

BAY BUCHANAN, PRESIDENT, AMERICAN CAUSE: I hope he doesn't make that long trip any longer than it needs to be. He's got to be a little more positive, Judy. He's got to be upbeat. This message that Donna's talking about has to be one that's positive, has a future to it. He's got to put aside all this Bush bashing. He is the doctor of gloom. It doesn't wear well just to be bashing somebody all the time. And I think he would be wise to put aside all that anger and start talking and giving us a positive message.

WOODRUFF: What about parts of the country where he should be, Bay?

BUCHANAN: He better get up to Pennsylvania. He's only been up there once. I'm not even sure he knows where it is on this map. In the south, he's in real trouble. Ten points down across the south. So I wonder if he's going to be able to pull that up and make it competitive at all. And without that he's going to have to win 70 percent of the major states that are in the Midwest.

BRAZILE: Bay, you'll like this. He's starting off in Motown. He's going to Detroit. That's where America's urban center really is. And from Motown, I believe, he's going to Missouri, Pennsylvania, Ohio, all the battleground states and he will be campaigning in the south.

WOODRUFF: Let's quickly talk about what's been seizing Washington the last few days. That is the hearings for the 9/11 Commission. Bay, what about Richard Clarke's testimony? Is that going to have a long-lasting effect?

BUCHANAN: One would hope not, Judy. Richard Clarke is a miserable, self-promoting little character who's literally fabricated accusations against the president in order to undermine his authority as the commander in chief and to promote his book. I find him a despicable fellow. And on top of that, he has absolutely no honor.

But I don't understand why the media has turned this guy into some kind of hero. They really have shown themselves in my opinion to be irresponsible partisan journalists.

BRAZILE: Bay, that's just a smear attempt. Once again to paint a different picture of a public servant. Someone who serves his country for many years. He was appointed by Ronald Reagan. He served under George Herbert Walker Bush, Bill Clinton and now George Walker Bush. This guy has a bone to pick with the president because the president didn't really focus on the war on terrorism. He had other plans, and what Richard Clarke has done is the same thing other former administration officials have done, they're speaking up, they're speaking out and the White House don't like the message so they're trying to change the subject and smear these guys. That's unfair.

BUCHANAN: It's not any smearing. What we have is absolute evidence. We have a Fox interview where he said something totally different. He testified before the Hill and said something totally different. E-mails to Condoleezza Rice where he said something totally different. It is without question he is lying through his teeth.


BRAZILE: Bay, Condoleezza should have went out in front and said it, she should have went and testified, held her right hand and said to the American people what happened. She didn't do that. She decided to hide behind some, you know, executive privilege or whatever. And that was wrong.

BUCHANAN: Whether Condi Rice went public -- she did testify. But whether she went public or not, and went up there and spoke doesn't matter. It still makes this character a complete liar. Why should the American people be listening? Why should the press build this guy up, pump him up, help him sell his book when they know he has no credibility.

BRAZILE: Well, if he was a liar, why didn't George Bush fire him the day he took office?


BRAZILE: He didn't fire him, he didn't listen to him, he didn't take his direction and didn't have a meeting on September 11 until a week before it happened.

BUCHANAN: Even Sandy Berger said he questioned whether he should be -- Sandy Berger recommended he be fired.

WOODRUFF: I need to point something out here, Dana Milbank (ph) of the "Washington Post" a little while ago, we were about asking whether there would be more public hearings. We did get a call from the 9/11 Commission, they want everybody to know there are six more days of public hearings, two days in May, two days in June and two more days in July, those coming up before the Commission wraps up its work.

BRAZILE: Maybe Condoleezza rice can clear the record. WOODRUFF: Finally, I want to ask you both about here's something President Bush did last night at the Radio and Television Correspondents Dinner that's caused a little bit of a stir. Let's listen and watch.


BUSH: Those weapons of mass destruction got to be somewhere. Nope, no weapons over there.


WOODRUFF: President showing some pictures, Bay and Donna, of himself, you know, joking around looking under the desk in the Oval Office. Some of the Democrats, Bay, are saying this is taking a serious subject and being a little too light with it.

BUCHANAN: The president can laugh at himself. I think this is a wonderful thing. It was very funny. Quite appropriate. And well delivered. It was a night that was supposed to be light. Everyone's making some fun of each other and I thought he did a marvelous job. And the place was laughing their head off. I saw no protests that evening. I doubt you did.

WOODRUFF: Quick last word.

BRAZILE: Bay, there's a saying we need to get to the bottom of what happened on September 11. And what happened in terms of intelligence for Iraq.

BUCHANAN: The truth would be useful.

WOODRUFF: All right. We're going to leave it there.

BRAZILE: It will set the Republican party free, Bay.

WOODRUFF: It is hard to get to the end of some of these discussions we're glad because we love having you both. Bay, Donna, thank you very much.

The Republicans, speaking of those guys, they go in search of the youth vote. We'll tell you how. Also, the Democrats stage their own edition of "Trading Spaces" without ever leaving home. The guided tour of their renovated headquarters ahead.



TERRY MCAULIFFE, CHAIRMAN, DNC: It's all about communicating the Democratic party message. We now have the most sophisticated tools that we've ever had. This is our political department. Regions of the country broken down. Everybody has a specific region here that they're working on. Nelson does all of our Hispanic outreach. What are you working on today, Nelson?

UNIDENTIFIED MALE: Our (UNINTELLIGIBLE) committee is getting ready for our unity. It's going to be fantastic.

MCAULIFFE: Now we have the finance department in here. Everybody here is now linked to the massive 170 million-voter file. So 170 million Americans are on the data file which is now accessible to anyone here in this building.

WOODRUFF: 170 million. That's got to include some Republicans.

MCAULIFFE: Republicans, Democrats and Independents. Everybody registered is now on it. We call it (UNINTELLIGIBLE) but it's used for political purposes. It's also used for finance purposes. You know, in the old days we didn't really have the ability to go in and find out past donors and so forth. Now they can pull up a name and find donor history that they need to know. More importantly they can find little bits of information about people. So when they're calling and asking them to help the national party, they know a little bit more about these individuals. This is all communications in here. How we doing, everybody?

WOODRUFF: Dealing with that...

MCAULIFFE: Whacking Bush?

WOODRUFF: Dealing with that dang press, right?

MCAULIFFE: And now you're in the chairman suite.

WOODRUFF: What's this right here?

MCAULIFFE: I get a lot of stuff that's sent to me in the mail. Put your foot on it -- chairman's office. Obviously, you'll do a lot because you've got the view of the Capitol and all that. But you could turn this into a TV studio.

WOODRUFF: What do you say to the people who say why did it have to cost so much money? Why couldn't you spend that money on getting a Democratic president elected?

MCAULIFFE: Well, it was soft money so I didn't have that option. I had to have it spent by the end of December 2002. So I couldn't have kept it no matter what we do.

Here is our research operation. They won't let me go in here either.

WOODRUFF: Why do I not believe that?

MCAULIFFE: They keep me out of here.

We have, obviously, the largest most sophisticated data file on George Bush. Which you know normally when a nominee wins the election they have to go put that together. All is done in-house here.

WOODRUFF: Can you compete with Republicans? We keep hearing they've done this extraordinary unearthing of every vote, every move that John Kerry has ever made. MCAULIFFE: We have everything in here, too. We have millions of bits of information as relates to George Bush. Our new television studio which we have just completed, we will have members of Congress, we will have John Kerry campaign. Democratic party, governors will all be over here now doing instant responses, getting our message out, responding to what the Bush campaign may do. But we can now do it in seconds. If we need something we literally can hook someone up here and immediately satellite it out to the 17 target states or wherever we need to be instantly, something we could never do before.

This is a new Democratic party. This is not your grandfather's party anymore. This is a brand-new, rapid response with the right technology. We have the right message. As soon as George Bush and the Bush/Cheney campaign does something that we believe is incorrect or they try to distort John Kerry's record, within seconds we will be back up with our own advertising, with our own message, within seconds. You punch us, I will punch you back harder.


WOODRUFF: Terry McAuliffe talking like the chairman of the Democratic party, which he is. Well, now that we've seen the Democrats' nerve center we plan to visit the Republican party headquarters very soon for an inside look at their campaign operations. We bet they'll let us go inside their research room.

The GOP goes after young voters on "TRL." The Republicans take their 18-wheeler to the Big Apple for a special appearance on MTV.


WOODRUFF: The Republican party is using Reggie the Registration Rig to go after younger voters. Reggie is the nickname for the party's new 18-wheeler which is used to register new voters at sporting events and at college campuses. Over on MTV at this hour, party chairman Ed Gillespie and Reggie are in New York making an appearance on the program "Total Request Live.

That's one way to go after new voters. That's it for INSIDE POLITICS. I'm Judy Woodruff. "CROSSFIRE" starts right now.


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